Math—the word comes in like a nightmare for some students. The complex methodology involved grasping the core concepts and then applying them to problem-solving—well, who would not be afraid?
However, math is more than just a "subject", it is the fundamental part of human logic. Not only that—mathematical problem solving builds mental discipline and logical reasoning, increasing mental rigor.
Thus, it enhances problem-solving skills and gets your brain adapted to liking rigor. What can be a better way to excel in any curriculum? Moreover, your math skills are not just limited to math as a subject itself—mathematical knowledge plays a vital role in other subjects.
According to research conducted by Dr. Tanya Evans of Stanford University, "children who know math are able to recruit certain brain regions more reliably, and have greater gray matter volume in those regions, than those who perform more poorly in math".
It is evident that great mathematical skills are a key to strengthen the brain. And in the era of automation and digitization, math-related career prospects are booming. However, students not only fail to understand the importance of mathematical knowledge but also get discouraged. Following the wrong pathway, learning from "not to the mark resources" adds to the fail.
Keeping that in mind, we have framed this article to guide high-schoolers towards the right approach. We will be discussing the overall math curriculum, electives, and the best math resources on the web. So, get ready, your magical journey towards high-school mathematics begins!
Let's first talk about the Standard High School Math Curriculum, What is it like?
The high school math curriculum varies for different states. However, forty-five states are following the Common Core Standards for maths. These standards create a more standardized math curriculum across the country. Also, it mandates the coverage of the following six content categories in high school:
As the standards are broad, they do not specify which content should be taught for each grade. Thus, there is a lot of differentiation between schools and states.
Usually, high schools decide the order of these math topics based on the results of placement tests. So, there is no specific set of rules outlining which courses you should be taking as a freshman, sophomore, etc.
The typical order of math courses followed by most students in high school is:
- Algebra 1
- Algebra 2
- Advanced Placement Classes
However, not all schools follow this order. For instance, some schools teach algebra 2 immediately after Algebra 1 instead of putting geometry in the middle. Some schools merge trigonometry with either geometry or pre-calculus. Other schools require the students to take pre-algebra before heading towards Algebra 1 and Algebra 2. Yet, most of the high schools follow a course order similar to that mentioned above.
It should be noted that the math classes you take in freshman year are decided based on a placement test. The order may also depend on the previous math classes you have taken in middle school. For instance, if you have already read Algebra 1 in grade 8, you can directly move on to geometry. Also, it is not mandatory for every high-schooler to take Calculus or Pre-Calculus.
And What about Individual math courses? What is the curriculum?
The high school curriculum requires a student to take a variety of classes in different core subject areas. One of these is maths, requiring the high-schoolers to complete at least three years of the coursework. All the classes that fall under the math curriculum are designed to help students excel at the collegiate level. Moreover, these classes increase your potential in related subject areas, for instance, science.
Although the general requirement is three years of math coursework, you may have to take four for specific colleges. If you are intending to major in a field that does not need advanced math, you may opt-out of it. In such cases, students should take classes related to their field of study, meanwhile fulfilling the least math requirements. However, if you are someone
intending to major in the STEM field, there is no time better than high school to learn advanced concepts.
If you are wondering what high school math classes should make it to your list, read on.
As a high-schooler, Algebra 1 is the first class you will take as part of the three-year coursework. The Algebra 1 math class curriculum usually consists of twelve to thirteen chapters. These chapters include concepts like:
- System of Equations
- Radical and Rational Expressions
- Graphing Linear Expressions
- Quadratic Equations
Usually, high school students opt for Algebra 1 in their freshman year. However, the school assigns maths classes on the basis of the results of a placement test. As a result, high school math classes may have students belonging to different grades.
Usually, geometry makes for the fourth math course in the high school curriculum. The geometry math class curriculum consists of ten to eleven chapters. However, the number of chapters varies for different classes. The topics included in the geometry curriculum are:
- Parallel Lines
Moreover, students may take solid geometry, which includes constructions, measurement formulas, etc. The high school geometry class may have students from different grades, due to placement tests.
High-schoolers take Algebra 2 as the third math class. The Algebra 2 curriculum generally consists of twelve to thirteen chapters. The topics covered under these chapters include:
- Conic Sections
- System of Linear Equations
- Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
- Sequences and Series
- Discrete Mathematics
The Algebra 2 curriculum builds upon the basic skills learned in Algebra 1. For many students who have not opted for advanced maths, this is the last math course.
Usually, high-schoolers take trigonometry in their junior year. The high-school trigonometry coursework consists of seven to eight chapters. These chapters include topics such as:
- Trigonometric Functions
- Circular Functions
- Inverse Functions
- Trigonometric Identities
Most of the time, trigonometry is a part of the Algebra coursework. But some students end up taking trigonometry as an individual course. The topics taught are a merge of both Algebraic and Geometrical concepts.
High School Calculus makes up for the advanced math curriculum. Only a selected group of students are able to make it to calculus. The high school calculus curriculum consists of three main topics, limits, derivatives, and integrals. Furthermore, these topics then include sub-topics such as:
- Definite Integrals
- Indefinite Integrals
- Tangent Lines and Rates of Change
- Application of Derivatives
Usually, students take calculus after reading the pre-calculus coursework. Calculus is often called the peak of high school math. However, it is beneficial for students intending to major in STEM.
Advanced Placement Math Classes
High-schoolers intending to major in STEM work or education take up math AP classes. The curriculum consists of three AP math classes—AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, and AP Statistics. The topics included in the math AP curriculum are:
- Contextual Applications of Differentiation
- Analytical Applications of Differentiation
- Differential Equations
- Integration and Accumulation of Change
- Parametric Equations
- Infinite Sequences and Series
- Sampling Distributions
- Probability, Random Variables, and Probability Distributions
These concepts enhance the analytical and problem-solving skills of a student. Usually, AP Calculus BC is deemed to be more difficult than AP Calculus AB.
What are the various high school math elective classes you can take?
Apart from the core math topics, students can take up various elective classes. These electives will help students learn new math skills, and challenge themselves. Also, taking up math electives if you are intending to major in math will boost up your college applications. The various online math elective classes you can take are:
This elective is perfect for high-schoolers intending to major in computer science. The course teaches arithmetics on binary numbers along with algebraic operations like polynomial and matrix multiplication, inversion, etc. Also, the students will learn to design algorithms in graph theory related to distance based on fast matrix computations. The course is of Intermediate level and is 100 percent online.
The course is focused on teaching high-schoolers the basics of combinatorial settings. Furthermore, the course concentrates more on developing abilities that distinguish real-life combinatorics from algorithmic problems. At the end of the program, students will learn to design a program that plays a counterintuitive dice game. The course is beginner level with flexible deadlines and is 100 percent online.
Graph Theory is an area that closely connects the aesthetics of painting and the rigor of maths. The course is focused on teaching high-schoolers to represent mathematical results pictorially. Not only that, but students will also learn how GPS systems find the shortest routes and how engineers design integrated circuits. Interesting, isn’t it? Well, this course comes with a shareable certificate and is self-paced. Taking up this course as a high school elective might impress your college admission counselor!
The course teaches basic algebraic concepts and is suited best for high-schoolers in their freshman year. The concepts covered in this course include evaluating powers and roots, solving single and multi variable equations, etc. Thus, it includes the standard curriculum in high school algebra 1. Moreover, the Introduction to Algebra course is entirely self-paced and is suitable for beginners.
For high-schoolers intending to major in math or STEM fields, this course can be an ideal choice. The curriculum focuses on teaching the concept of differentiation, integration, and much more. Not only that—students learn about the five important mathematical concepts that usually make up for the bachelor's curriculum. These five areas are— functions, differentiation, equations, analytical geometry, and integration. The course is entirely online, of beginner level, and is self-paced.
Lastly, Here is the list of Best Online Math Resources for High School Students
With a learning and community rating of four stars, Khan Academy makes it to the top of this list. The video lessons are simple, friendly, and casual. Moreover, the interactive lessons
make use of colorful graphics, targeting real-world problems. The math resources and lessons are organized on grade level and course. Moreover, the platform integrates with Google Classroom. There are a plethora of powerful analytical and adaptive programs, that makes it easier to target a student’s skill level.
Math Nation has an overall learning rating of 5 stars, with great reviews from parents. The platform fits well into the flipped classroom and distance learning scenario. Also, there are end-lesson quizzes to evaluate a student's learning gains after each lesson. Not only that, students can practice from worksheets related to the contents of each video lesson or can purchase a workbook. The video lectures are suitable to embed with Google Classroom or other virtual platforms. Overall, Math Nation is a great way to blend digital and offline learning.
Cue Think goes to the next level in terms of innovative learning. The platform introduces students to Thinklets, otherwise known as stepped-out solutions to math problems. A thinklet has four steps towards problem-solving —. Understand, Plan, Solve, and review. When a student successfully finishes a thinklet, they can submit it for evaluation and feedback. Moreover, Cue Think lets the student describe their solution through a video, with audios and images generated by the platform. Quiet innovative and off-the-beat right?
Brilliant is an online math learning platform with a learning and community rating of four stars. The problems at Brilliant are primarily available for at-home practice. But high-achieving kids can complete these problems to earn extra math credits. The platform enables students to share and solve problems, particularly useful for those who are competing for math olympiads. Under the courses tab, students get to choose from a variety of math classes. These include Algebra, Group Theory, Geometry, Calculus, Trigonometry, etc.
GeoGebra has a learning and community rating of four stars each. The platform is entirely free and lets students create models and mathematical constructions. GeoGebra is browser-based and is also available as downloadable applets. The platform covers almost all high school common core math expectations, making the pool of resources diverse.
Overall, GeoGebra moves the math learning approach beyond the pencil and paper computations.
What are the different high school math courses?
The high school math curriculum is divided into five courses—Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus. It is necessary to take three years of math in high schools. As pre-calculus and calculus are advanced mathematical concepts, students are not bound to take them.
Usually, high-schoolers start with Algebra 1 in their freshman year, followed by geometry in the sophomore year. The order of math classes a student will take varies with schools. Also, it depends upon their placement test results.
What are the various math AP classes?
The AP math curriculum consists of three courses— AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, and AP Statistics.
The AP Calculus AB focuses on differential and integral calculus and is considered easier than AP Calculus BC. Topics like parametric, polar, and vector functions make up for the AP Calculus BC curriculum. For AP Statistics, students read about collecting, analyzing, and drawing conclusions from data. Overall, Calculus BC is the hardest math AP class.
Where can I take math classes online?
There are many e-learning platforms circling the web that provide both free and paid math courses. We have listed a few of these resources above in the article. Apart from them, online MOOC platforms such as Coursera and edX to have a diverse range of math classes. High-schoolers can take up these classes as high school electives or explore various mathematical concepts.
Which math classes are the easiest?
According to a large group of high-schoolers, the easiest math class is Algebra 1. That is the reason why most of the students in their freshman year end up taking Algebra 1. Following Algebra 1, Geometry is the second easiest math course in high school.
Apart from these, Calculus and Statistics are considered to be the hardest math courses in high school.
What is accelerated math in high school?
Accelerated math is a path different than the standard math pathway in high school. An Average student takes Algebra 1 in grade 9 followed by geometry and Algebra 2 in grades
10 and 11. However, the accelerated math option lets a student take Algebra 1 in grade 8. Thus, students take the following math courses one year earlier than their peers. The placement allows them to take AP math classes in their senior year.
The purpose behind high school math is not just teaching students "a core subject". Learning math trains the brain to solve problems in a logical way. Moreover, students can excel in any curriculum, if their math skills are strong.
Talking of the high school math curriculum, it consists of 5 courses. These courses include Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus. Trigonometry is often taught as a part of the Algebra or Geometry curriculum. Calculus and Ore-Calculus make up for the advanced math curriculum. Not every student opts to take Calculus in high school.
Apart from the standard core curriculum courses, high-schoolers who are intending to major in math take up electives and AP classes. While there are a plethora of options in terms of concepts and topics available for electives, there are only three AP math classes. They are— AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, and AP statistics.
Talking of the right platform to learn math, we have listed a few resources in this article. These resources cover all the mathematical courses and concepts. However, if you are someone searching for a platform for the core and elective math courses, Red Comet is the best option. The course catalog of the platform has a number of math elective and core courses. Moreover, all these classes are self-paced and customizable.
So, which one do you like the most—Algebra or Geometry? Trigonometry or Calculus? Which math electives have you decided to take? Has this guide answered all your questions? Comment down and let us know!